A Southern-Meets-Dutch Wedding in South Carolina
This casual, coastal fête's details made for a uniquely nautical affair.
Rachel and Jurrie
Rachel Stewart and Jurrie Reinders, both grew up sailing with their families, and are coastal-dwellers through and through. When temperatures rose on a late-winter Sunday in 2012, it's no surprise that the New York City-based pair found each other at the Frying Pan—a former barge that's now a bar on the Hudson River. "When I looked to my friends who were already seated, I noticed a very handsome gentleman I had yet to meet. He was nice enough to give me his chair and somehow found himself another seat right beside me," says Rachel. "After talking about Jurrie's Dutch background and his American adventures since living in the United States, my Southern upbringing, and our shared love of sailing, we became immediately inseparable."
Two and a half years later, the couple was planning a major celebration. Jurrie's parents and sister were traveling from Holland to meet Rachel's family in Charleston, South Carolina. When they arrived, the group spent a week at a beach house while touring plantations, the Stewart family farm, and downtown. At the end of their stay, Jurrie set to sea with their dads for an all-day fishing trip, and insisted on a big cookout when they returned. Before dinner, as the sun was setting, Jurrie took Rachel's hand and starting pulling her down to the beach. Then, he suddenly stopped. She read, "Rachel, will you marry me?" written in the sand, and turned around to find Jurrie on one knee. After she said yes, the pair returned to the beach house where all of their family and friends had arrived for a post-proposal party, all to Rachel's surprise.
When it came time to plan the wedding, their engagement spot and Rachel's hometown won out as their location. On September 19th, 2015, 115 guests arrived at the Creek Club at I'On for a casual, coastal celebration that incorporated Dutch, Southern, and New York touches.
The Stationery Suite
Rachel's co-worker, Emily Spurlock, designed the stationery suite and all the day-of décor elements with nautical charts—of Holland to represent Jurrie, Charleston to represent Rachel, and Manhattan to represent them as a couple. Printed on ivory, textured paper, the suite featured the wedding logo (a compass with the pair's monogram) and pulled colors from the charts and natural environment to create a palette of blue, yellow, green, and brown. The entire suite was tied together with twine and an anchor punched from soft blue paper.
On the first day of her wedding dress search, Rachel wasn't sold on anything she tried on until her consultant added the Hayley Paige beaded bolero to a strapless, chiffon gown by the same designer. Once the pieces came together, she knew the look was perfect. On Rachel's left wrist was the first piece of jewelry that Jurrie had ever brought her—a hook bracelet that she never takes off.
Out of the Garden created Rachel's bouquet of Dutch white tulips, Charleston green marsh grasses, and woven palmetto roses. Wrapped around the flowers was a burlap ribbon and a cross necklace belonging to her grandmother, who was very sick at the time and unable to attend the wedding.
When it came time to propose, Jurrie knew he had to go to the couple's friend, Lita, who runs a part of her family's diamond business: Royal Asscher. The company was working on a new cut of diamond, the "Royal Round Asscher," and for a while, Rachel's engagement ring was a one-of-a-kind design. "That was pretty special, that my husband and friend designed my ring specifically for me," she says. The wooden box, embossed with a gold anchor, held the couple's wedding bands, which were also made by Royal Asscher.
In addition to her ring, the bride wore diamond earrings from Lita as her "something borrowed," patent leather J.Reneé heels, and a Bridal by Vanessa lace garter embroidered with her monogram to add "something blue" to her ensemble.
The Dutch Wedding Shoes
A surprise gift from Jurrie's aunt and uncle, Rachel was given these hand carved, traditional Dutch wedding shoes the evening before their wedding. The bride was excited to be able to incorporate the wooden clogs into their big day, but could only wear them during cocktail hour since they were difficult to walk in—she almost fell in the pool trying them on the night before!
The Welcome Sign
"Details are my thing," says Rachel. "I think details are what makes an event special. We almost decided not to spend the money on the welcome sign or other signage because it was beginning to add up, but we decided the worth was more than the cost so we pulled the trigger. And I am so glad we did!"
Jurrie's sister made pillows out of the nautical chart wedding design, and included custom tags on the back that said "Made with Love"—some in English and others in Dutch. After the wedding, the couple kept some of the pillows for their apartment and gave others to family members as a special keepsake.
The Groom's Arrival
"I loved the reaction that all of our guests had when Jurrie pulled up in my dad's boat. Everyone stood up and started cheering and clapping," says Rachel. "I was in a room with a glass door and could see and hear everything. It was the perfect start to the day."
The Bride's Entrance
Rachel's father, Reynolds, walked her down the aisle to UB40's "(I Can't Help) Falling In Love With You."
Held on the lawn of the Creek Club at I'On and overlooking a marsh, the couple kept their ceremony light-hearted with entertainment from live Reggae musicians Ryan Becknell and friends. Jurrie's sister read a love poem in both Dutch and English, and Rachel's close family friends read 1 Corinthians 13. The bride and groom participated in a knot-tying ceremony with sailing rope (which is now on display in a shadowbox in their apartment), then exchanged traditional vows and shared self-penned love letters complete with quotes from "Wedding Crashers," Rachel's favorite movie.
Although the couple opted to forgo a traditional bridal party, Rachel invited her four best friends to help her get ready. Once they got dressed themselves, they realized they were all wearing the same shade of blue. "We thought, 'okay, this is the reason we're best friends!'" says the bride.
Asian ginger jars were scattered throughout the venue—some contained Charleston marsh grass, while others held white Dutch tulips. "Just to make sure we had a little bit of me and a little bit of Jurrie in every detail, even the flowers," explains Rachel.
Signs dispersed throughout the venue had fun sayings such as, "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. –Benjamin Franklin," and, "Trust me, you can dance. –Vodka." Beer and wine were passed to guests so they had something to sip on while they were waiting in the receiving line en route to cocktail hour.
The two nautical maps that sat framed on the ballroom mantle during the reception now hang in the dining room of Rachel and Jurrie's apartment in Manhattan.
Making sure their guests were dancing and having a good time was at the top of the couple's list of priorities, so they opted to have sporadic seating throughout the Creek Club at I'On. Four long farm tables were set inside the building with high-top tables by the bar. Outside, rocking chairs lined the porch and coffee tables were set up in the grass, along with rattan couches and captain's chairs. Guests had the option to sit if they wanted to eat or rest, but this arrangement ensured that the dance floor was never empty.
The First Dance
Jurrie's favorite part of the day was when he and Rachel performed their choreographed first dance to Walk The Moon's "Shut Up and Dance." Not even their closest family and friends knew they had planned the surprise performance, which was complete with lifts and spins. "Toward the end of the song we asked everyone to join us on the dance floor and it was awesome," says the bride. "Everyone was so shocked and pumped! It set the tone for the rest of the evening."
Dessert tables displayed foods from Holland, Charleston, and Manhattan. One featured mini stroopwaffles, licorice, drop chocolates, and a sign that read, "Mmmm, delicious!" in Dutch. River Street Sweets made pecan pralines that accompanied banana pudding shooters and mini pecan pies from DeClare Cakes at the South Carolina table. The third included New York City classics, such as mini black and white cookies, mini cheesecake bites, and Baked by Melissa cupcakes.
The couple cut into a small vanilla pound cake with lemon curd that DeClare Cakes decorated with a Dutch Delft pattern and topped with "Mr. and Mrs." wooden, hand carved clogs—a gift that Jurrie's parents brought from Holland.
Each guest had their own page in the couple's guestbook they were encouraged to decorate with a picture from the photo booth, scrapbooking materials, and/or a note. "It worked really well, there were some really funny pages with hilarious photos, full illustrations, and entertaining stories from past memories," says Rachel. "You can tell which guests made their pages later in the night versus earlier! It's a fun keepsake we will look at and laugh about for many years to come."
The Photo Booth
In the photo booth, Rachel and friends posed with a ship wheel, lifesaver, captain's hat, and mustaches—just some of the fun, nautical-themed props available to guests.
Each guest was given a custom boat cup with the couple's logo and saying for the weekend: "Proost Y'all" (proost meaning cheers in Dutch, and y'all added a Southern twang). Rachel and Jurrie encouraged everyone to channel their inner sailor as they all boarded an after-party boat and continued the celebration on the water with late-night chicken sandwiches and, of course, more dancing.
Photography, Catherine Ann Photography
Location and catering, Creek Club at I'On
Event planning and rentals, Ooh! Events
Flowers, Out of the Garden
Stationery, Emily Spurlock
Cake, DeClare Cakes
Pecan pralines, River Street Sweets
Cupcakes, Baked by Melissa
Music, Ryan Becknell Trio (ceremony and cocktail hour); DJ Wade (reception)
Bride's gown and bolero, Hayley Paige
Bride's accessories, Bridal by Vanessa (garter); J.Reneé (shoes)
Engagement ring and wedding bands, Royal Asscher
Hair and makeup, Paper Dolls Wedding Hair and Makeup
Groom's suit, Lee Baron
Transportation, Lowcountry Trolley